In an effort to enhance the security and readiness of the country’s first responders to deal with potential terrorist threats, R. David Paulison, Administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), signed an agreement with the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) Director, Ronald L. Dick, in support of the newly established Emergency Fire Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC). This partnership will allow vital security-related information to move more effectively between the multi-agency NIPC, based at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, and the national fire associations, the 50 State Fire Marshals, and the more than 32,000 local fire and emergency medical departments throughout the nation.
The Emergency Fire Services (EFS) ISAC will be operated by the USFA at its headquarters in Emmitsburg, MD. USFA is a component of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was designated lead responsibility for the emergency fire services sector in Presidential Decision Directive-63 signed in May 1998. The EFS ISAC will allow the nation’s leading experts in fire and emergency services to assess threat intelligence provided by the NIPC and then assist the NIPC in preparing warnings of threats against emergency fire services personnel and infrastructure. In turn, the nation’s fire and emergency departments will have a fast and reliable means through the NIPC to pass incident information to national level agencies responsible for looking for patterns that may indicate an organized attack is in preparation or underway.
“While everyone is doing their utmost to prevent terrorist attacks, today’s threat environment reflects that potential targets are not limited to federal government sites. That is why information sharing between the national and the local level is vital in the war against terrorism,” said Ron Dick, Director of the NIPC. Mr. Dick added, “Our country’s fire and emergency medical departments are in every community. They are the ones that will be first to deal with the consequences of any domestic terrorist attacks. We must be able to give them warnings as early as possible so they can take actions to minimize the potential loss of life and property. Advance knowledge of the target area and the type of attack (bomb, chemical, radiological, biological and/or cyber) can make a vital difference in their readiness to mitigate the consequences of an attack. The intelligence, law enforcement and other agencies that make up the NIPC are committed to giving our nation’s first responders that vital edge.”
“The understanding we sign today recognizes the necessity for a robust and timely exchange of essential information about threats to and attacks on the fire and emergency medical services infrastructure,” according to R. David Paulison, Administrator of the USFA. “It is most appropriate that USFA establishes an ISAC to serve as a mechanism for the two-way trusted exchange of information in order to analyze and disseminate actionable intelligence on threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, anomalies, and security best practices involving the emergency fire sector.”
“The creation of the EFS ISAC is one more step in our efforts to integrate State and local resources into an efficient and effective national effort to fortify our homeland defenses,” Dick added. ” The EFS ISAC communications network, leveraging the existing dissemination mechanisms of national fire associations, the 50 State Fire Marshals, and law enforcement networks will allow the NIPC to quickly transmit critical physical and cyber threat information to local fire departments. The emergency fire leadership at the USFA can give us expert interpretation on raw sensitive threat intelligence, and help us turn it into useful information that first responders can directly act on. Collectively, the eyes and ears of our best trained safety professionals in each community will serve as the sensors for a national early warning system to alert us to a possible attack on the emergency services infrastructure itself.” According to Paulison, “The National Fire Academy expects to have a new training module ready in the near future for first responders on how the ISAC can best serve their critical infrastructure and counterterrorism information and preparedness needs”.